QUESTION: I am confused about my case. On 1 April 2003, I entered the US on an F1 visa. The border officer at the airport granted me admission for duration of status (D/S). My college term started 1 May 2003. That was exactly 1 month after entering and enrolling into my college course. Due to my lack of interest in the study subject I discontinued going to classes a within month. That is, I attended classes for only a month.
Instead of departing from the US or changing the study subject, I decided to stay and took a job. After consulting an immigration lawyer I realized that the proper thing to do for me was to depart back to my country, which I did on the 19 August 2004. After I left the US for home (the Netherlands), I inquired myself of the consequences of my actions. I realized that I might have triggered the 3 or 10 year entry bar. I've never applied for a visa again, ever since, nor have I tried to enter the US/cross the border, since I have left. I know that if the 10 years bar applies to my case that would mean that by 19 August 2014, the entry bar should expire. But I am not sure of this since on the internet I have found information stating the difference between out-of-status and unlawful-presence and that D/S on an F1 student visa may have different meanings and consequences in comparison to other visa types.
Having granted D/S status on my F1 visa on 1 April 2003, but then having dropped out of school 1 to 2 months afterwards, followed by staying in the US until voluntarily departing back home on 9 August 2004, have I triggered any entry bar and if that's the case which of the two entry bar applies?
REPLY: Thank you for your questions. While I cannot provide you with advice specific to your case without first reviewing it in more detail, I have provided some general information below.
Individuals who are admitted to the U.S. as F1 students for the duration of status (“D/S”) do not begin to accumulate unlawful presence unless/until there is an official finding that the student has fallen out of status by either an Immigration Judge or U.S. Citizenship an Immigration Services (“USCIS”). The act of dropping out of school alone does not begin the accumulation of unlawful presence.
If an individual is subject to a formal finding that s/he has fallen out of F1 student status, the unlawful presence clock begins as of that finding. If the individual departs the U.S. within six (6) months of the finding, s/he is not subject to a bar for unlawful presence. If s/he departs the U.S. after six (6) months but before one (1) year after the finding, s/he is subject to the three (3)-year bar. If s/he departs the U.S. more than one (1) year after the finding, the 10-year bar applies.
I hope this information is helpful.